Archive for October 4, 2010


In Los Angeles, a trip to IKEA can be treacherous. You need at least two people and an SUV or pickup truck combined with some urban survival skills. Tempers flair as angry, shopping-weary drivers attempt a tricky parking maneuver – backing into a parking space. Then you have to load all those heavy and bulky items into your car. Don’t expect any help from an IKEA employee; you’re on your own.

There are many situations when you need a different ride for a short amount of time. Finding a rental car to suit your purposes can be difficult and expensive. You’ve already worn out your borrowing privileges with your only friend with a pickup truck. And then there are the thorny issues of insurance and what if you wreck a friend’s car?

Things are about to get easier.

On September 30, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 1871, sponsored by Assembly Member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento). The law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2011, will allow people who are part of a car-sharing network such as Zip Car or CityCarShare to hire out their personal vehicles during the time they are not being used.

If you think about it, in a given 24 hour period, you probably use your car only about 10% of the time to commute to work, do errands, etc. The rest of the time, your car sits idle. Maybe you can make some money while you aren’t using your car.

Up to now, the insurance companies have been the major impediment to car-sharing/rental programs in California. Being paid for renting your car constituted “commercial use” and could invalidate your insurance policy and create a huge mess if someone crashed your car while it was rented. The insurance company could deny coverage leaving you personally liable for anything that happened in an accident. Not good.

Assembly Member Jones’ press release after the signing stated: “The new law will help car owners shrink the cost of owning their vehicles, reduce the need for some people to buy cars, improving parking and traffic congestion, and help the environment.”

I’ll forgive the hyperbole because it’s a simple law that’s good for consumers and insurance companies and it doesn’t add to California’s red ink. (more…)

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